If you ask the question about disabling Apple TV WiFi on the Apple forums, you’ll get blasted by all the rude and disrespectful commenters who think WiFi sensitivity is BS.
If you’d like to avoid the hostility and frustration of people telling you that it’s all in your heard, I wrote this brief article for you.
Faulty Initial Research
When I first purchased the Apple TV for our home, I was not interested in adding another WiFi enabled device to our home. In fact, I was very opposed to the idea of bringing in additional signals to our home. But my incomplete research at the time led me to conclude that because the Apple TV has an ethernet port and one person in one forum said it was possible to disable the WiFi in the settings, I made the decision to purchase Apple TV.
Several months after purchase, we made the decision to eliminate WiFi entirely again. This was our first time to live in a two-story home that is not wired for ethernet ports, so we’d been using WiFi during the daylight hours to power our home business.
We plugged ethernet cables back into the Apple AirPort Extreme router and disabled the WiFi. We used a separate ethernet cable to connect Apple TV to the AirPort Extreme. Using ethernet cables, we get all the functionality of Apple TV except AirPlay, which allows you to mirror your laptop, phone, or iPad screen on the television.
The only other functionality I know we lost is the Apple Remote app for either iPad and iPhone. It WAS really convenient to use my iPhone as the Apple TV remote instead of the provided remote, because I could use the onscreen QWERTY keyboard to type keywords into search and also for password entry.
It is in convenient to click one letter or symbol at a time using the included Apple TV remote. But that’s a small price to pay for feeling better in my own home.
But does ethernet connectivity actually disable WiFi?
I searched and searched online, and could not find the answer. So I hopped onto my Apple Support app for iPhone and reached out to the Apple team to ask the question. I spoke with a Tier 3 Support Specialist and he informed me that even at his level, which is the highest level short of the Engineering team, that they don’t have that information.
He did note that he wears an insulin delivery device that cannot function in the presence of WiFi. He is unable to go to airports and other locations constantly emitting WiFi or his device will stop working. Given this limitation, he informed me that he is still able to use Apple TV wired for ethernet without difficulty.
Apple TV Auto-Disables WiFi When Ethernet is Active
After putting me on another hold, he came back on the phone and informed me that his friend in the Engineering department gave him more detailed information.
According to his contact in Engineering, Apple TV does indeed shut down the WiFi emitting signal automatically once successful ethernet transmission is engaged. But it’s not the simple act of plugging in the cable. The Apple TV has to receive a strong signal through the cable.
If your home ( and Apple TV) loses signal from cable/satellite company, with a Cat-5, Cat-6, or Cat-7 ethernet cable, then the Apple TV automatically kicks back on the WiFi and produces a signal in attempt to reconnect. So if your cable internet connection goes dead, your Apple TV (and your router as well) will search for WiFi signal.
How does this affect my use of Apple TV at home?
For our family, it means that if our cable internet goes out, we’ll be unplugging the power to our router and our Apple TV so that they don’t kick on WiFi automatically in search of a signal. We’ll plug it back in every half hour or hour as needed to re-check for wired internet signal.
I was also informed that BlueTooth operates on the same exact frequency as WiFi, but its signal travels a much shorter distance. Because of this, I feel compelled to research the difference between WiFi and BlueTooth more in depth, as I obviously don’t want to fool myself into believing I’m doing an okay job at reducing exposure when in truth I’m not.
On the flip side, even if BlueTooth IS as harmful as WiFi, by ensuring that the WiFi signal is turned off we have reduced the strength of signals the Apple TV produces by 50%. We each have to assess our homes and families and choose what level of preparation and prevention to deploy.